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Ezra 4:1-5

Context
Opposition to the Building Efforts

4:1 When the enemies of Judah and Benjamin learned that the former exiles 1  were building a temple for the Lord God of Israel, 4:2 they came to Zerubbabel and the leaders 2  and said to them, “Let us help you build, 3  for like you we seek your God and we have been sacrificing to him 4  from the time 5  of King Esarhaddon 6  of Assyria, who brought us here.” 7  4:3 But Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and the rest of the leaders of Israel said to them, “You have no right 8  to help us build the temple of our God. We will build it by ourselves for the Lord God of Israel, just as King Cyrus, the king of Persia, has commanded us.” 4:4 Then the local people 9  began to discourage 10  the people of Judah and to dishearten them from building. 4:5 They were hiring advisers to oppose them, so as to frustrate their plans, throughout the time 11  of King Cyrus of Persia until the reign of King Darius 12  of Persia. 13 

1 tn Heb “the sons of the exile.”

2 tn Heb “the heads of the fathers.” So also in v. 3.

3 tn Heb “Let us build with you.”

4 tc The translation reads with the Qere, a Qumran MS, the LXX, the Syriac Peshitta, and the Arabic version וְלוֹ (vÿlo, “and him”) rather than the Kethib of the MT, וְלֹא (vÿlo’, “and not”).

5 tn Heb “days.”

6 sn Esarhaddon was king of Assyria ca. 681-669 b.c.

7 sn The Assyrian policy had been to resettle Samaria with peoples from other areas (cf. 2 Kgs 17:24-34). These immigrants acknowledged Yahweh as well as other deities in some cases. The Jews who returned from the Exile regarded them with suspicion and were not hospitable to their offer of help in rebuilding the temple.

8 tn Heb “not to you and to us.”

9 tn Heb “the people of the land.” Elsewhere this expression sometimes has a negative connotation, referring to a lay population that was less zealous for Judaism than it should have been. Here, however, it seems to refer to the resident population of the area without any negative connotation.

10 tn Heb “were making slack the hands of.”

11 tn Heb “all the days of.”

12 sn Darius ruled Persia ca. 522-486 B.C.

13 sn The purpose of the opening verses of this chapter is to summarize why the Jews returning from the exile were unable to complete the rebuilding of the temple more quickly than they did. The delay was due not to disinterest on their part but to the repeated obstacles that had been placed in their path by determined foes.



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